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Looming Mental Health Crisis in Oklahoma - KOAM TV 7

Looming Mental Health Crisis in Oklahoma

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Oklahoma has a 215 million dollar hole in its budget, and if it doesn't find a solution soon, the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services will have to make severe cuts to the tune of around 70 million dollars.

Last Wednesday, a funding bill aimed at relieving the state's budget gap failed on the Oklahoma House floor. Charles Danley, the CEO of Grand Lake Mental Health Services, isn't happy with what he's seen from Sooner lawmakers.

"I've been at the capitol more this year than I ever have been in my 25 years with the agency. Everyone saw the seriousness of this dilemma and the funding that was needed, and I was just appalled by some of the statements made by our Oklahoma legislators," said Danley.

He feels some representatives don't take mental health issues seriously.

"The ones that were critical about any services being provided, (saying) that people could just get a grip, were just really, really horrible," said Danley.

Danley says the Grand Lake Mental Health Centers are taking a "wait and see approach" to the funding issue before they make any changes.

James Walls is a youth therapist who works in Grove, Oklahoma. He shares many of Mr. Danley's concerns, and says his patients do as well.

"We've had a significant increase of calls coming in from patients being worried about what's going to happen come December 1st, or whenever funding's going to be cut," said Walls.

Both of these mental health professionals say they're optimistic a solution will be found before the deadline, but they wish they were getting more information from the capital.

The Oklahoma Legislature will reconvene on Monday to again try to come up with a budget solution, before deep budget cuts kick in December 1st. 

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